“I would like to visit a banana plantation on the last day of our vacation, are you coming with me?”
This was the question my wife asked me during the last days of our vacation to La Palma. A little hesitant if this would be of interest to me, I agreed.
On that Wednesday morning we were waiting at 10:30 am at the agreed location in Puerto Naos. We saw the plantation at a distance. I asked my wife: “Do you see all those other plants growing among the banana trees?” Without knowing, I had just become acquainted with the impressive ecosystem of which I would later learn everything about.
You know: A banana plant is a type of grass, so not a tree I learned :). There are around two hundred different edible varieties of banana. The banana plant has one of the largest leaves of all plants, in fact, the leaves of the plant continue in the “trunk”.
We were welcomed by Fran, the owner of the plantation. Fran -a world improver in heart and soul- has been contributing to the climate with his plantation and ways of working for more than 10 years. He let us in and requested us to follow him. Walking through, what some people would call a jungle, it seemed as if I had ended up in a completely different world.
The plantation with the name PlatanoLógico is an ecological banana plantation. Plátano spanish for banana and Lógico in this case the designation for the ecological aspect.
Ecological means that everything must be in accordance with the natural cycle. On the plantation this is achieved by building and then naturally evolving an ecosystem; balance, back to basics, back to nature.
Starting an ecosystem is not easy. We saw the result of years of hard work, learning and thinking! The ecosystem of the plantation functions without the use of artificial substances. As the word ecosystem indicates, the plantation maintains itself.
If you walk through the plantation you will see different plant species; of course banana plants but also broccoli and many others. You also see many species of animals including caterpillars, butterflies, wasps, birds, ants, cockroaches, lizards, ladybirds and even some sheep, ducks and donkeys. Some plants have the purpose of being harvested for sale. Other plants, trees are present as food or housing for animals. Amazing! But why?
Unfortunately, most banana users think that appearance is almost more important than taste and or nutritional value. This means that a banana must look nice. This is also expected from an ecological banana. An example: Caterpillars love to nest on banana plants. In a legacy monoculture, this would be combatted by spraying crops to keep the caterpillars away. This is of course out of the question at an ecological plantation. The ecosystem of PlatanoLógico shows that it is possible. By planting broccoli plants between the Banana plants, caterpillars already partially diverge. Wasps (Aphidius Colemani) and birds bring the rest of the balance. However, birds do not nest in a banana plant, this means that suitable housing should also be arranged for them in the form of trees. Good and bad, these are people’s value judgments, in this ecosystem everything works together and the whole is balanced; impressive!
This plantation has a banana production that is only 10% -15% inferior to the best-producing monoculture plantation! At the same time, it produces besides bananas many (10s of) other fruits and vegetables; incredible.
During the entire tour, Fran’s intrinsic motivation was tangible and inspiring. My visit to the PlatanoLógico ecosystem has opened my eyes further.
In the field of an organic lifestyle or even an ecological lifestyle I am following. My wife steers me and educates me. I follow and I learn. This new way of doing things can easily be maintained by the visible benefits of this changed lifestyle. This blog is my first step to moving from being lead, to (co) leading myself.
Not everything I do is ecological or even organic. However, I believe it is more important that everyone does something than that (only) a few people do it perfectly.